Cleaning Air Ducts Yourself: Do the Risks Outweigh the Rewards?

June 5 2020

Cleaning Air Ducts Yourself: Do the Risks Outweigh the Rewards?

A clean air duct and HVAC infrastructure increases ambient air quality and helps to reduce energy costs in the long term. The dust, allergens, dirt, mold, chemicals, and other contaminants that collect in a building’s HVAC system can lead to health and safety concerns for businesses, their employees, and their clients. These contaminants also reduce the efficiency of the system overall as it works harder to circulate air.

In the COVID-19 era, it’s important to pay special attention to the efficiency of your HVAC system. According to The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), ventilation and filtration via HVAC systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 (the strain of virus that causes COVID-19) and thus the risk of transmission through the air.

In order to improve both air quality and energy efficiency, air ducts must be maintained and kept clean. Is it possible to DIY HVAC duct cleaning, or is it better to hire a professional?

Necessary Professional Tools

Before considering cleaning air ducts without the help of a professional, it is important to consider which tools are necessary for a job well done. A specialist will use:

  • A HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner
  • A negative air machine
  • A stiff-bristle brush with a long handle
  • Heavy duty gloves, dust masks, and goggles

When cleaning ductworks, the HVAC system and adjacent room must be kept under negative pressure to prevent the spread of contaminants throughout the rest of the facility. In order to do this, specialists use a heavy duty vacuum and negative air machine. A common home vacuum will not suffice to keep up the needed air pressure.

The NACDA recommends cleaning the entire HVAC duct system during the maintenance process, including air ducts, soils, drain pan, registers, grills, air plenum, blower motor, heat exchanger, air filter, and air cleaner. Without the help of a professional, this process can be lengthy and costly.

Risks of DIY HVAC Duct Cleaning

Conducting a DIY duct cleaning may seem like a cost-effective option for facilities wanting to improve their air quality and cut their energy costs. However, there are significant risks involved with attempting to clean a facility’s air ducts without the help of a professional.

  • Duct damages. Flex ducts with thin walls are especially easy to damage. Even a small hole in the ductwork can reduce airflow and drive up utility bills while spreading contaminants.
  • Poor air quality. While a DIY cleaning can somewhat improve air quality, it will never be as effective as a professional cleaning with appropriate equipment.
  • Excessive system strain. Improper cleaning techniques can generate extra costs in the future if HVAC air ducts are improperly maintained, causing excessive wear and tear to systems that are more likely to fail prematurely.

Call the Professionals

In order to avoid damaging ductwork and conducting an incomplete or unsafe cleaning procedure, hiring a professional can save time, energy, and expenses in the long run.

An initial assessment and quote from an Air System Cleaning Specialist, Certified Ventilation Inspector, or Certified Ventilation Mold Remediator can help guide an informed decision about proper HVAC cleaning procedures.

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